Check out Zach McKinnell of “The Bluebloods” preview of Bethune-Cookman’s SWAC debut versus Alabama A&M. Who shall ascend to the top of the mountain?
This will sound a little bonkers to you if you only casually followed Bethune-Cookman football through the first two weeks of the season but hear me out. Despite their 0-2 record and despite yielding 1,141 yards of total offense in those two games, Bethune-Cookman has shown me enough to believe they will fair well in SWAC play this season.
I fully admit I often see-through maroon and gold lens. Fair enough. But I am offering an objective analysis this time. I promise! I think!
So here goes my reasoning. I had a group chat rolling last Saturday evening during the UCF vs BCU game. It was the same group chat I had rolling when the Wildcats traveled to El Paso to face UTEP but I digress. There were three active football coaches in that chat. The exact quote from one of those coaches was “after 5 quarters of watching BCU this year, we can all agree that they are a good FCS football team.” They matched up well against UTEP from a size, speed and athleticism standpoint and there were several guys who really popped out against UCF as well.
Now admittedly, that chat thread grew awfully quiet by midway through the 2nd quarter of play against UCF, however, the thought process remains. I saw enough positive things and heard enough positive feedback from guys who know what they are talking about to feel pretty good about BCU Football as they enter the portion of the season that truly matters.
We won’t have to wait long before the Wildcats start to prove or disprove these assumptions.
Reigning HBCU National Champions Alabama A&M roll into Daytona stadium this Thursday evening in what will be Bethune-Cookman’s first ever SWAC conference contest. The Bulldogs head into the contest winners of seven straight including a 42-41 shootout against South Carolina State in Week One. Brian “Juice” Jenkins Jr., former Daytona Beach Mainland standout and son of former Wildcat head coach Brian Jenkins Sr. had a game high 112 yards receiving against South Carolina State. Cookman’s defense will have their hands full trying to slow down Jenkins, SWAC Offensive Player of the Year Aqeel Glass and Connell Maynor’s high octane offense.
Glass’ 426 yards passing and 4 touchdown tosses this season is almost identical to BCU talisman, Shannon Patrick’s 453 yards passing and 4 touchdowns. The glaring difference being Glass’ stats all came in one game compared to Patrick doing it over two. Granted, Patrick led his team against two FBS opponents including one that is headed to the Big 12. The playing field levels out beginning this week when the Wildcats begin a stretch run of 9 straight contests against FCS competition.
Alabama A&M’s undersized front seven surrendered 242 yards on the ground against SCSU. Meanwhile the Cats’ Que’shaun Byrd is averaging 6.7 yards per rushing attempt with a long of 68 yards this season. We fully expect the Wildcats will look to take advantage of Byrd’s playmaking ability and their size advantage in the trenches this week.
Defensive Coordinator Yogi Jones has shown great patience in sticking with a ton of shell coverage so far. I suppose you can say there has been a lot of “bend” in the defense. Unfortunately for the Wildcats and their “bend but don’t break” philosophy, the “but don’t break” part of the moniker has been absent from the D. Opponents have scored touchdowns on 11 of 13 Red Zone tries and the defense has only forced 5 punts this season. Ouch. The Wildcats have to find a way to limit the Bulldogs to kicking situations. Maybe that comes through pressuring Glass and forcing punts. Maybe that comes by forcing field goal tries once inside the Red Zone. Either way, Cookman’s defense has to find a way to slow down this Bulldog offense.
In addition to Byrd proving himself as a reliable playmaker, pass catchers Darryl Powell Jr., Marcus Riley and Kemari Averett have all proven to be matchup problems. Bethune-Cookman should not have many issues moving the ball against the Bulldogs. It will be critical that the Wildcats finish drives with touchdowns because I believe the first team to score 38 wins this contest.
I also believe this is an excellent opportunity for Terry Sims’ men to plant their flag and remind the HBCU World that the Wildcats are 8-0 against SWAC competition since 2006. We think…I repeat think Bethune-Cookman is a good football team. We will follow up on that assumption in less than 72 hours. See you all at 7:30pm, Thursday, September 16th at Daytona Stadium.
Follow HailWildcats.com on socials and online. We will continue to bring you updates and insights into BCU football. We will also continue to help you support our guys as they play away from home. Click LetsGoWildcats.org for updated information on Fan Trips.
HBCU Sports Aficionados, Bryan Harvey and Bradford Gillens, join Hail Wildcats to discuss BCU’s move to the SWAC. What should Wildcat/SWAC fans expect? What’s the future of the MEAC? How do BCU athletic teams stack up against SWAC foes? Tune in to find out.
The annual all-star game for seniors from Football Bowl Subdivision programs will kick off at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday in DeLand, Fla. The game will be played at Spec Martin Stadium, home of Stetson University and can be viewed online at FloFootball.com. The Tropical Bowl website estimates, through its parent organization (East Prep LLC), that upwards to 40% of players that participate and actually pursue a Pro career are placed and many players play from the NFL to Europe!
Best of luck to Jimmie and Trevor! Hail Wildcats!
Wildcat fans, we loss homecoming. Freaking homecoming bro.
Everything was set up so perfectly. The old-heads were decked out in their best “short sets” and leopard print. The Greeks were strolling. The Henny was flowing. The #WHOE crowd left it all in streets of Daytona; yet somehow our beloved Wildcats came up short in the actual game. That’s no way to treat Ms. Mary’s kids but here we stand.
Saturday’s 27-19 homecoming loss was the first since losing to Winston-Salem State in 2009. That was Coach Alvin “Shine” Wyatt’s last season in charge. If I had to give you one word to describe the loss it would be… frustrating… disappointing… head-scratching…soul-searching.
Yeah, I know that’s more than one word but let me have my moment.
Losing to a Buddy Pough coached squad is nothing to be ashamed of. SCSU owns more MEAC championship crowns than any other school with 16 and Coach Pough is the winningest coach is Bulldog history. The frustration for Wildcat fans lie not in losing Saturday’s contest but in how the team performed.
The Cats entered the contest on a 5 game winning streak yet the air in the stadium was filled with frustration and head-scratching by game’s end.
Frustration that the team’s most dynamic player, All-American Jimmie Robinson, only had one offensive touch the entire contest. Frustration at surrendering 276 rushing yards while only rushing for 59. Head-scratching at yielding a first down and eventually a touchdown after allowing SCSU to convert a fake punt on 4th and 17.
There was the blocked field goal, missed extra point, missed tackles, dropped passes, questionable play calling, failure to convert a 1st and goal into points….I’m exhausted thinking about all of the missed opportunities.
“We got out-coached and out-played”. Those aren’t my words. Blame that analysis on head coach Terry Sims speaking to the media after the defeat.
Perhaps the most disappointing and telling sign of how the night went was highlighted on the last drive. Trailing by a touchdown and 2 point conversion with less than 2 minutes to play, Bethune took over possession at their own 38 yardline. That’s awesome right? We got 3 time MEAC player of the week Arkevious Williams at QB. We got the aforementioned Jimmie Robinson. We got the homecoming crowd cheering and Marching Wildcats playing. Surely a comeback was in the cards right…NAH! Not this time.
After picking up an initial first down, the Wildcats’ potentially game tying drive ended with 3 sacks and a dropped pass. It was a sad exclamation point to a night filled with missed opportunities. A night in which BCU simply could not deliver in front of 12,204 homecoming fans who were looking for a reason to add to the festive weekend. It just wasn’t meant to be.
The bad news is the Wildcats no longer control their own fate to make the postseason. The good news is the Wildcats are still co-leaders in the MEAC standings and very much in the championship hunt. Assuming Bethune does a little soul-searching, course correcting and win out against Delaware State, NCA&T and FAMU; they would only need South Carolina State to drop one of their remaining contests to fulfill their quest of making their first ever Celebration Bowl appearance.
The scenario is not far-fetched especially when considering fellow co-leaders SCSU and NCA&T square off in Orangeburg this weekend. An Aggies win would once again place BCU in control of their own postseason fate.
BCU has a bye this weekend giving them plenty of time to lick their paws. Heal up. Regroup. Refocus. Insert your favorite cliche here before taking on Delaware State in Dover in a couple of weeks.
Back in the day when my crew and I were rocking Jeri Curls, Guess Jeans and Adidas with the fat boy shoelaces, Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen penned the famous line: “you can’t start a fire without a spark.” Today as I sit here with my baldhead, no name jeans and Dr. Scholl inserts, I am unashamedly thanking Florida A&M University for the fire that is currently blazing across the MEAC and HBCU landscape.
Yeah, you heard me correctly. On this 21st day of October, I am thanking Florida A&M University for setting the MEAC landscape on fire.
The spark that started the flames came on Sunday afternoon when the Rattlers defeated reigning Black College National Champions North Carolina A&T 34-31 in overtime.
Prior to Sunday’s rescheduled contest, there was a sense of apathy…inevitability…been-there-done-that permeating MEAC circles. There were no real surprises up to that point. All of the teams we thought would be good heading into the season were handling their business; none more so than the #9th ranked Aggies who seemed on course to win their 3rd straight MEAC crown.
But all of that changed when FAMU pulled off the first real shocker of the season. As a result, lethargy has been replaced with vigor around the conference. Trash talk is ramping up. Half of the league is playing the “what-if” game and reviewing all of the scenarios that would land their squad in the Air Force Reserve Celebration Bowl.
Buddy Pough and the resurgent South Carolina State Bulldogs now control their own destiny to get to the Celebration Bowl. NCA&T is still in control of their own fate to get to Atlanta. Florida A&M, who isn’t eligible for postseason play this year due to self-imposed sanctions, still control their own destiny as it relates to being named Black College Football National Champions. Rattler fans, who have watched their team defeat Southern, South Carolina State and now North Carolina A&T, are starting to feel real good about themselves. Many of them are already peeking ahead at the Florida Classic.
Speaking of the Florida Classic, let’s not forget about our favorite hBCU. Bethune-Cookman is 6-1 and sitting atop the MEAC standings but if you were not playing close attention you could have easily missed that fact. This is partly because the Wildcats have yet to have a signature win and partly because BCU’s schedule is heavily back loaded with games against SCSU, NCA&T and FAMU all upcoming.
The Bulldogs visit Daytona Beach this Saturday to face the Wildcats in a huge homecoming matchup. A SCSU win would throw the conference race into utter chaos. A win by BCU keeps them looking down at everyone else in the standings and on pace for the MEAC title and one of the most significant Florida Classic matchups in years.
Yeah, I know there is a ton of football left to be played between now and then but a guy can dream can’t he?
Everything is on the table. All of the team goals are still in front of the Wildcats. Let’s hope Terry Sims, his coaching staff and his team can pull it all together and keep the fire burning in the hearts of BCU fans. South Carolina State you’re on the clock. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00pm this Saturday. Who will ascend to the top of the mountain!
1- Bethune-Cookman shuts down FAMU in Florida Classic, blocks Rattlers’ shot at MEAC title
2- 99-yard TD run carries Bethune-Cookman to victory over Florida A&M
3- Bethune-Cookman scores twice in 4th, Beats FAMU 33-19
4- FAMU Collapses again in Florida Classic, lose 33-19 to BCU
5- FAMU drops disappointing verdict in Classic
6- Bethune-Cookman downs FAMU, 33-19
7- Super 8! BCU wins eighth straight Florida Classic behind big plays, late turnovers
8- Bethune-Cookman spoils FAMU celebration bowl berth with Florida Classic win
There is a gentlemen by the name of Dr. K. Jackson who has a thriving pediatric dentistry practice in the Great Atlanta Area. I know you don’t really care about that, unless of course your Little Johnny has a gator-sized overbite in which case you may want to rush out to one of Dr. Jackson’s offices IMMEDIATELY, but humor me if you will.
When we were both seven years old, some older kids in the neighborhood provoked me to start a fight with Dr. J. I had a pretty good history up to that point of holding my own against kids at my level so what the heck. Let’s do this!
Let’s just say things did not go the way I anticipated that day.
Dr. Jackson’s 7 year old self kicked my 7 year self’s butt. It was awful. I cried real tears y’all. I am not exaggerating. He beat me up and sent me home crying real tears. The most frustrating thing is I felt like I had no answers. I just remember thinking whatever the 7 year old version of ‘somebody throw in the dang towel already’ while I was eating a plate full of future dentist fists.
He outthought me, outmaneuvered me, out-classed, out-witted, out-manned, outperformed…I was just…well ‘out’ that day. It was a completely one sided affair.
For those of you who witnessed Bethune-Cookman’s contest against Tennessee State this weekend, it was pretty much the same; only BCU was me and TnST was Dr. Jackson. The Tigers “out-everything” Bethune last Saturday. They outrushed (201-66), out passed (324-178), out-executed, outcoached and of course outscored (34-3) Cookman.
Fortunately for 7 year old me, it all worked out in the end. I live a pretty good life now and Dr. Jackson and I are best of friends to this day. It was also the last fight I loss so I have that to hang my hat on too.
The Wildcats are looking for a similar story line. A lopsided defeat early in the season does not have to define this team and it can mostly be erased from the memory banks if they can course-correct. Objective number one if they are to steer this ship back towards the Celebration Bowl is to fix the offensive line woes. That’s easily spoken but not easily resolved.
Now granted, the offensive line is young and Tennessee State is not exactly the defense you want to break in the new tires against. The Tigers threw a myriad of pressures at the young Wildcat front and frankly BCU simply were not good enough to handle it. Even though the OLine failed their first test, they must rebound if this team wishes to finish the season at or near the top of the conference standings.
Surely the Wildcats will look to set the tone and build much needed confidence in the offense and throughout the entire team when Virginia University of Lynchburg roll into Daytona Beach this Saturday.
The Dragons are a gift from Ms. Mary McLeod to her beloved Wildcats in Week Two of the College Football Season. Virginia Lynchburg are not members of the NCAA, instead, they compete in the lower and less competitive NCCAA or National Christian College Athletic Association. Yet it’s still an official contest against other grown men and after last week’s drubbing, you could not find a better place on the schedule for it. The Wildcats need to not only win this contest but they need to play the role the big bruiser in this fight and get that swagger back that comes not just from winning but dominating your opponent. Doing so would pump a gulp of fresh air into Wildcat nation. I am sure it would also make 7 year old Dr. Jackson really proud.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4:00pm.
Hey y’all; it’s game week and the kickoff of the 2018 MEAC football season is here. (That felt so good I will say it again).
Hey y’all; it’s game week and the kickoff of the 2018 MEAC football season is here. Our beloved Wildcats travel to Nashville to take on the Tigers of Tennessee State this Saturday, September 1st at 7:00pm in the John Merritt Classic. Bethune will look to capture its first MEAC crown since 2015 and finish the season in Atlanta in the Celebration Bowl.
But it’s not just the Wildcats who will fight to position themselves at the top of the MEAC standings come season end. Aggies, Eagles, Bison and Bulldogs will all attempt to claw their way to the catbird seat and represent the conference in Atlanta in December.
Our MEACFANSZone friend, durhamgsoaggie, put together a list of things to watch for this season in the MEAC that will likely have major impacts on 2018 and beyond. Enjoy!
1. A Tale of Two Willies In Tally.
2018 will mark the first time that the two D1 universities in Florida’s capital will both have black head football coaches (and under the age of 45). In fact, the ADs, men’s basketball coaches and head football coaches of both FAMU and FSU are all black males.
Slick Willie (Taggart) and Fast Willie (Simmons) are great young football minds who have the potential to change the game at their prospective levels. In addition to winning, the question is whether they can produce a synergy within the city of Tallahassee that hasn’t been there to lift both sides to dominance? And will FAMU’s recruitment of Kayvon Thibodeaux, one of the nation’s highest rated players, have an effect on this if successful?
2. The evolution of Akevious Williams and the Circle City Debate
Most media outlets have Howard picked as the consensus #2 behind A&T because of the Caylin Newton/Mike London effect. But an argument can be made that the most talented roster in the MEAC from top-to-bottom is down in Daytona. With Larry Brihm now departed to the CFL, will Williams make the leap this year as the unquestioned leader at QB under the tutelage of Allen Suber? Or will he fall back into a timeshare with a player like Jabari Dunham? Given BCU’s home games against A&T & NCCU and a bevy of talented RBs to go with an aggressive defense… the answer to this question could have championship ramifications for the MEAC.
BCU also elected to give up its home game vs. Howard for the Circle City Classic. If BCU wins, this is a moot issue. However… if Howard wins on the neutral site, the questions will linger whether it was a wise move to give up home-field advantage for the $$$ and visibility for Circle City. This game is definitely one to watch.
3. NCCU – The QB Collectors
NCCU started 2017 with former Southern/JUCO transfer Micah Zanders at QB. Due to injury, freshman Chauncey Caldwell took over the reins for the Eagles with sophomore Naill Ramadan mixed in. In the offseason, NCCU signed Zanders’ brother Marvin, a grad transfer QB from Missouri. In addition, freshman Dominique Shoffner redshirted. Crowded QB rooms are nothing new in a D1 football program. But with a squad replacing 8 starters on defense, continuity and efficiency on offense will be key early in the season. Coach Granville Eastman is a defensive guy who will have his defense fully functional by mid-season. RBs are abundant with the return of Isaiah Totten and arrival of hometown star Jamal Elliott. But the QB room in Durham is a carousel to watch early in the season.
4. The Ticking Clock in Norfolk
3 seasons and no progress in Norfolk for Coach Latrell Scott. Solid recruiting classes, a solid returning starter at QB in Juwan Carter, a big win down in Durham vs. NCCU… but no real traction so far. Tragedy struck the Norfolk program in a major way last season. But this is a new season and the natives in the talent-rich Tidewater region are on the warpath. Can Scott’s staff produce the synergy needed to produce a winning season? Can an offensive line emerge to control the clock, keep an opportunistic defense fresh and keep the talented Carter upright to make plays? Or will Scott’s tenure end with a grave in the Tidewater wetlands? One thing is for sure… Virginia State and Reggie Barlow are coming on September 1st. Could Scott be playing against his potential replacement? Time will tell.
5. End of an era in Orangeburg and Savannah.
Rumors have been swirling that 2018 will be the last for SCSU Coach Oliver “Buddy” Pough. 2018 is also the last season for Savannah St as they move back to the SIAC in Division II. SCSU produced another high draft pick with Darius Leonard going in the 2nd round to the Colts. With SCSU losing LB Dashawn Taylor as well… will the massive OL/DLs down in Orangeburg be able to carry the load and give Buddy one last winning season out the door? And can Coach Erik Raeburn continue to build a viable program given concurrent defections due to the pending move down for progress in 2018?
6. New faces, same problems in Delaware & Baltimore
Coaches Rod Milstead and Ernest Jones bring new energy & passion to their programs. But structural and regional issues still remain the same for both programs. Can the coaches recruit successfully enough in the same competitive recruiting regions? And are the staffs they assemble capable enough in the scheme/execution department to make a significant change in the quality of football we’ve seen from both schools? A competitive DSU/MSU combo makes this entire conference take a step up. We need it.
7. Golden Non-Conference Opportunities
Multiple schools have great opportunities for OOC wins, including Morgan St, NCCU, FAMU and BCU. Norfolk St has a major home game against FCS power James Madison. But the headliners are Howard & A&T.
Howard has FBS Ohio & Kent St while ending the season hosting FCS Bryant. A&T kicks off the season with FCS power Jacksonville St, then travels to FBS East Carolina, followed by hosting FCS Gardner Webb. The A&T/Jax St. game may be the biggest MEAC FCS game since the 1999 I-AA Playoffs in terms of competitive standing on the FCS stage. Howard’s win over UNLV and near-miss at Kent in 2017 put them on the map in the Mike London era. Continuing to win more of these games is critical to gaining a broader market audience for the MEAC. But tiebreakers may also come into play for A&T and Howard, since they will not play each other in 2018. So all of these matchups are key in 2018.
Thanks durhamgsoaggie for your input.
Before my cousin and I headed off to college, our uncles decided to loan us their extra wheels for the summer so we could handle all of our post high school shenanigans. So we alternated between driving one uncle’s white 1971 Chevy Corvette Stingray and another uncle’s almost doo-doo brown 1976 Plymouth Valiant.
Yes the Stingray was as awesome as it sounds. 427 cubic inches of aggressive, opulent, spectacular American Muscle.
Also yes, the Plymouth was a hooptie. We affectionately named the Plymouth “sadadat” based on the sound she made when we drove her.
“Sa-da-dat”, “sa-da-dat”, “sa-da-dat”….. you could hear us coming from 3 blocks away.
It was actually my homeboy Johnny Torrence, currently the proprietor of Torrence Lifestyles, who came up with that name but I digress.
Both vehicles got us to and from beachside parties, girlfriends homes, work…you name it. But getting there in the Plymouth was nothing like arriving in the ‘vette. What the Stingray was in feisty excitement, sadadat was in humdrum pragmatism.
I have spent all summer trying to figure out if the 2018 rendition of @BCUGridiron will be more like the ‘vette or the Plymouth I use to drive. Excitement or humdrum? The truth is I have no idea.
Every time I try to make myself believe the Cats are poised to make a run, I start to hear “sa-da-dat,” “sa-da-dat,” “sa-da-dat” playing in my head.
I wish I could go on a Denny Green tirad and shout “the Wildcats are who we thought they were” but I have no idea who the Wildcats are.
I have even robbed myself of my late summer hobby of spending hours envisioning all of the reasons why our beloved Bethune-Cookman Wildcats will finish the season atop the MEAC and HBCU football standings.
But nope! That has not yet happen this season.
No wishing the Aggies, Rattlers, Bulldogs and Eagles fans bad luck this season for having the audacity of thinking they will somehow win against the Mighty Fighting Wildcats. My posts on MEACFanZone haven’t been filled with passive aggressive jabs about “the little church school”striving hard to prove everyone wrong.
It hasn’t happen. None of it. Instead I am just sort of preparing to ride out the 2018 football season in the passenger seat of the Plymouth…but I have my racing gloves and shades in hand just in case in I need to jump in the ‘vette too.
Terry Sims took over as the head honcho in Daytona Beach in 2015. The Wildcats finished 9-2 that season, 4-6 the next and 7-4 last season under Sims’ direction. For those keeping score at home, Sims’ teams have swapped between good, bad and average like my cousin and I swapped vehicles. BCU’s 20-12 (.600) record in the Sims era averages out to about 7 wins and 4 defeats a season.
Bethune won 7 of its 9 matchups against FCS teams last year. That is good. 8 of those 9 games were 1 possession games entering the final 2 minutes of the contests including against bad 3 win teams like South Carolina State, Savannah State and FAMU. That is not good.
Sure you will take a win any way you can get it but what if the Wildcats don’t convert a Hail Mary against NCCU as time expires this season? What if the Cats don’t block a SCSU field goal as time whines down? What if the FAMU punter doesn’t foolishly attempt a fake punt with his team leading and possessing all of the momentum in the second half? (That last question was fully intended to frustrate Rattler fans btw.)
If BCU plays the same way they have the past two seasons, there is equal chance of the ball bouncing for or against them.
The prayer of the Wildcat faithful is that Coach Sims and company will calibrate things just right, have this team firing on all cylinders and find themselves putting games away early and not allowing contests to hang in the balance.
Of course other teams will have something to say about that but the Road to Atlanta and the Celebration Bowl is more easily navigated this year than in years past.
The two North Carolina schools are the only schools to have represented the MEAC in the Celebration Bowl. However, both schools find themselves in a state of major transition with head coach Rod Broadway retiring at NCA&T and NC Central losing their head coach Jerry Mack to FBS Rice.
BCU’s roster is talented enough to rise to the top of the leaderboard in conference but if they are to do so, they will have to improve on both sides of the ball. The Wildcats finished last season ranked in the middle of the pack on both offense (6th) and defense (5th).
Sims described his defense as bend but don’t break last year. With running starters like Elliot Miller (DB), Trenton Bridges (LB), Devin James (LB) and Todney Evans (DL), the Wildcats should have plenty enough on defensive side of the ball to exert their will and return to the dominant, hard hitting, fast paced unit they are traditionally known as being.
The D will have to lead the way early in the season while Arkevious Williams acclimates to being the new starting QB. Offensive coordinator Allen Suber will also have to look for ways to prepare a bevy of new receivers to make up for the losses of Jawill Davis and Frank Brown.
“Vroom, vroom” or “sa-da-dat?
I am still unsure which one we will see in 2018. What I do know is we are just two weeks away from finding out when the Cats travel to Nashville on September 1st at 7:00pm to take on Tennessee State in the John Merritt Classic.
HailWildcats.com will be there to bring you a fan’s perspective of all the action. You are cordially invited to travel with us to Nashville and all road games as we support our boys in their quest to make it to the Celebration Bowl. Click here for fan bus details: https://hailwildcats.com/ontheprowl/.